Loving the beach!

My family has dinner together most Mondays. Last night we went out to Bronte Beach for a surf and barbecue. This is probably the best thing about being back in Sydney: getting to the beach regularly. It's very very nice.

Though when I see upcoming gigs happening in London, or Glastonbury news, I get a bit sad.

Xen and Myth coming along

I'm making slow but steady progress getting Myth and Xen going. Cabled up the spare bedroom yesterday so it's now got a TV aerial port. Plan is to put the computer behind the door fo the spare room, which has quite a bit of space behind it and should fit the machine nicely. The software is the only barrier now, and that's coming along very nicely.

For some reason debootstrap to Ubuntu Edgy ends up with no access to the network. Not sure why. Then if I try Dapper it works fine but has a weird problem with tzconfig trying to write somewhere it shouldn't, so I can't apt-get dist-upgrade to Edgy. I've gone with Debian for dom0 and domU for now, and it works fine.

I've managed to get the domU seeing the USB digital tv stick by hiding the USB PCI card from the dom0 kernel (pciback.hide in the kernel command line) and exporting it into the domU. I'm pretty amazed this worked so easily. That should make adding more tuners pretty easy too.

My only real issue with Xen has been the syntax of the config files. It's not particularly well documented and seems to have changed a few times in the past, which means when you find something online it won't necessarily work in the version you have.

Once I've got Myth settled down, I'll start working on my desktop which will be using one of the thin clients I own. Last Thursday I bought a really nice 19" LCD screen, which will become my desktop screen. Will be nice working on a decent sized screen and a real keyboard again after months with the laptop.

Pop covers in metal

Stig followed up my recent post about covers but got it wrong. He's enjoyed the pop and acoustic people covering metal songs. What I meant was the best ones I've found so far are metal/glam bands covering pop songs. ABBA seems to be particularly well covered, but then they were perfect

Great covers

I downloaded a giant directory full of covers last week and have been working my way through them. I love cover versions of classic songs, but only when the cover finds a new angle on the song. So if you're an acoustic vocalist, there's little point covering Cindi Lauper or Tori Amos. Ditto if you're a metal band, don't cover Black Sabbath unless you've got some really new idea.

Interestingly, the best ones I've found so far have been power/glam metal covers. Dungeon (who seem to have been through a Spinal Tap-worthy number of drummers) covering Blondie's Call Me is just brilliant. It's amazing how perfectly the chorus fits in the glam metal style.

Next one I've liked is Helloween covering Abba's Lay All Your Love On Me, which was always a pompous, over-the-top pop tune and so makes an excellent glam metal track.

It's interesting that the glam metal bands seem to understand what kinds of songs they should be plundering as there seem to be a lot of people covering music in their own genre, which is almost always a disaster. Acoustic vocalists, look to completely different genres like metal, thrash and the like. Tori Amos' cover of Smells Like Teen Spirit is a great example. I'm also a huge fan of The Goards' cover of Snoop's Gin and Juice.

So I'm still only about a third of the way through this directory. I'm sure there'll be a few more gems.

Smugmug rocks!

I always wonder why everyone raves about Flikr. It's slow, the interface is clunky and unless you pay big bucks, they don't store your photos in the original resolution. I've been very happy using Smugmug for all my photos for the past year.

Now I find out that the one limitation they have, on the bandwidth you use, has been dropped. So now I don't even have to worry about that. Fantastic!

If you want to sign up to Smugmug, be sure to put my email address in as the referrer. That way I get a discount and so do you.

Good Invasion Day weekend

For those of you outside Australia, Invasion Day is Australia's national day. Officialy known as "Australia Day", it commemorates the day white people took over Australia. Hardly something to celebrate if you're one of the original peoples of this place.

Anyway, due to it being a Friday, Holly, me, Matt, Maz, Vickie, Adam, Mikey, Leonie, Kev and Marg went up to my parents' holiday house up the coast for a weekend of lazing around, grilled pork products and drinking. Was really nice to get out of town and the weather was pretty good.

This was our first Invasion Day back in Australia in quite some time so it was strange being in warm weather. Still, I got to read about the festivities in London around at Scott and Katie's.

In other news, I'm doing a mini mash brewing course at my local homebrew shop.

Grubby deals and doings between Liberals and crazy Jesus freaks

It's starting to come out the grubby links between the Liberal Party and the extremist separatist Christian cult Exclusive Brethren. Expect the story about their ads being billed to the Liberal Party to be buried quick smart while the Libs make the shome mishtake, shurely? defence.

Next time you see an advert claiming Greens policies will result in compulsory sex changes, your daughter being skull-fucked by heathen hippies and dope smoking becoming mandatory, remember to think "who's paying for this".

All voters in Australia would do well to learn more about this weird cult. They're not the usual fairy-believers. Much weirder and more sinister.